So let us start with the Extraliga, which saw arguably it's biggest club depart the league in search of bigger and better things. HC Slovan Bratislava, after winning their first championship for four years decided that the Extraliga was no longer for them, and managed to make the jump to the KHL. There had been rumblings for a while that the club from the capital was looking to expand outwards from the Extraliga, and with the success that they had not only on the ice, but off the ice after the reconstruction of the Ondrej Nepala stadium turned out to be a smart move. With increased capacity of over 10,000, and spirits high after the Slovak Extraliga championship, as well as the silver medal achieved by the national team, Slovan are in a good place at the moment in Slovakian terms, although their tight budget constrictions could hinder their KHL form.
|Who knows what the future holds for Košice|
For Dukla Trenčín, most of their concerns have been around having a rink to play in. A huge ammonia leak in the main arena has rendered the rink unsafe for now, but there were major issues over whether or not the local government will have the funds available to embark on the repair work, which was estimated to be at €55,000. However, the city of Trenčín have seemed to have taken control of the Pavol Demitra Arena as of late, after the team had been forced to practice on the rink owned by Marian Gaborik, as well as the local rink in nearby Dubnica. Mayor Richard Rybníček has offered to lease the arena to the Dukla club for just one euro for training sessions and matches, as well as putting up the money for the repair costs, in order to secure Extraliga hockey in Trenčín for the coming season. The city claims that the arena will be repaired by late August (link).
|Poprad went from KHL & Slovak hockey to|
almost no hockey this offseason
Another with money problems going into the season was MHC Martín. One of the smallest clubs in the Extraliga, Martín, who have missed the playoffs for the last two seasons have struggled to keep a hold of a number of their players, but finally this week started to begin pre-season preparations with a new head coach Róbert Pukalovič, featuring a team mainly made up of junior and local players. Despite this, it does seem that Martín have managed to gather enough money together for the coming season, although their prospects are quite bleak. It is also worth mentioning HK Skalica, who have entered an agreement with Slovan which will allow a number of players to be loaned down to the Extraliga club who don't make Slovan's KHL roster. At present, Andrej Kudrna, Adam Trenčan and Peter Trška have been sent down to Skalica.
|New beginnings for Piešťany in the Extraliga|
Photo: Laco Duračka/shk37piestany.sk
So, another summer of turmoil in Slovakian hockey, which sadly seems to be nothing new. Who knows what the next year will have in store, and although I always try to put a positive spin on things, I am struggling to find anything 'good' about the situation that Slovak hockey finds itself in at this current stage. Maybe things will change, but sadly it seems that the success of the national team at the World Championships may be a failed success if nothing is done by the government or the SZLH.